Edited by Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni
Chapter 5: Capitalism
The modern economic system is commonly classified as a ‘market economy’. This means that the allocation of resources is the outcome of individual decisions taken by producers and consumers. Producers and consumers answer to public signals such as prices which work automatically as they are the outcome of aggregated individual buying and selling decisions. Hence, on the market, anyone plans or rules; the coordinating mechanism is decentralized and voluntary. Prices give incentives which bring individuals to choose behaviours which are advantageous for them and, with some other condition, efficient. ‘The assumption is that society, in spite of frictions, dis-equilibria and evident inequalities can be interpreted as an equalitarian system in which each subject is rewarded according to its merits’ (Graziani 1981, 9). Those which disappear are the asymmetries of power: ‘an economic transition is a solved political problem. Economic science gained the title of queen of social sciences by choosing as an object political problems which were already solved’ (Lerner 1972, 259). Marx opposed himself to this conception by distinguishing the organizational forms of the economic system through the criteria of the property of the means of production.
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